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We are contrary creatures, us humans, but that isn’t something we need be afraid of, or even much troubled by. And if you make a list of those people who worship consistency, you’ll find they’re one and all tyrants or would-be tyrants. Ruling over thousands, or over a husband or a wife, or some cowering child. Never fear contradiction, Cutter, it is the very heart of diversity. ― Steven Erikson, The Bonehunters
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Do not seek to find hope among your leaders. They are the repositories of poison. Their interest in you extends only so far as their ability to control you. For you, they seek duty and obedience, and they will ply you with the language of stirring faith. They seek followers, and woe to those who question, or voice challenge. ― Steven Erikson, Midnight Tides
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What problem am I trying to solve? How does this help me get there?This question is an old friend. A constant companion as I muddle my way through life. What am I trying to do? Do I know? Child questions spawn, dragging me closer to an imperfect answer that works for now. There is something powerful about the way asking a question reveals flaws in my understanding, or illuminates new avenues to explore. The beautiful thing is, behind each answer I find more questions.
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For in a republic, who is "the Country"? Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant--merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. Who, then, is "the Country"? Is it the newspaper? is it the pulpit? is it the school superintendent? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command, they have only their little share in the command. They are but one in the thousand; it is in the thousand that command is lodged; they must determine what is right and what is wrong; they must decide who is a patriot and who isn't.
Who are the thousand--that is to say, who are "the Country"? In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country; in a republic it is the common voice of the people. Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catch-phrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country--hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of.
- Mark Twain, The Devil's Race-track : Mark Twain's Great Dark Writings